I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for an honest review. Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity.
Hey everyone! How’re things going? 🙂
Sorry I haven’t been too active lately. I guess I have descended into the dreaded blogging slump I’ve heard so much about… 😦 I’m hoping to catch up on everyone’s posts soon enough, though!
Once again, I decided to try my luck on a contemporary for a change and have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I hope you enjoy my review!
This review is completely spoiler-free.
- Title: Before I Fall
- Author: Lauren Oliver
- Publisher: Hodder & Houghton
- Publication Date: February 9th, 2017
- Page Count: 386
Sam Kingston is a privileged girl with a seemingly perfect life. She never has to care about anything except looking hot, being popular and occasionally getting good grades. That is, until one day she dies in a terrible car accident. Now she has to relive her last day over and over, again. And she doesn’t know why.
I’ve heard so much about this book ever since it was released years ago but didn’t really think it was for me. Still, I was curious and wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I found myself pleasantly surprised and was actually really into the story from the very first pages.
All the characters are incredibly three-dimensional. At first glance, they all look and sound the same, but as you read on you realize just how much you’re skimming the surface. How every single one of them has something singular about them, how each one has an inner struggle of their own, a story to tell.
Sam, the protagonist, is especially interesting. She’s not a great person. She’s not a role model. But she’s real. Her doubts and insecurities, her thoughts, they all made so much sense to me. I think anyone who’s ever been a teenager, no matter their “role” back then (mean girl, misfit, nerd…) will be able to understand her and relate to her. Her family and friends/classmates are also on point.
I thought this book would be incredibly depressing given the subject matter. But it wasn’t. There were some dark moments, of course, and I had my heart on my throat on occasion. But overall, it tells an uplifting and hopeful story. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel like anything is possible and also helps you appreciate the little things in life a bit more. It’s also surprisingly humorous and lighthearted and it made me laugh countless times.
The writing was fantastic. It felt like one was really inside Sam’s head and experiencing everything first-hand. Even the “paranormal” details were explored with great care. All the events were stacked together in a cohesive, easy to follow fashion, so the reader had no trouble making small connections here and there without, however, figuring out the whole thing right away.
There was always something new about Sam’s day, even if it was a repeat from her previous one. All the changes made always had consequences, so you get different responses from different characters and events every time. I thought this was really well-done: it was not insanely complex, but I liked its simplicity.
The moment Sam realizes what’s happening and has to deal with it was especially powerful and incredibly realistic.
There are many hard moments to stomach in this, though they are all portrayed in a respectful and tasteful manner. I think the author really managed to make these teenagers come to life, with all their flaws and faults ready to slap the reader in the face with barely any filter.
The romance was really cute and sweet and I couldn’t stop squealing at how adorable it was. I’m also glad it didn’t take over the plot at some point.
The repetition could get a little bit boring sometimes. After all, we’re experiencing the same day several times over. It’s bound to sound and look the same every time. Even though the author was clever to create all these nuances for every time Sam behaved a different way, I guess by the end I was just hoping it would be over already. All the chapters were really long and they dragged a little bit, too.
I thought some things might have been a little cliché, though overall they worked well for the story. A lot of the time I kept thinking “well, this would look great in a movie” because it did sound like it came from one.
I was hoping this book would incite stronger emotions within me, but it didn’t. It felt very light, which to me wasn’t a problem exactly, just something I noticed. After all, this is about death and fixing past mistakes. It should have left me bawling my eyes out at some point. And although it did make me feel bad/emotional regarding certain situations, it never got to full blown emotional destruction.
I’m still not sure what I think about the ending… I’ll have to mull it over for a bit. On one hand it was fitting; on the other, it didn’t satisfy me.
I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. The story was very well-written, the characters were all amazingly crafted and each spoke to me in small ways. Sam was especially relatable and it was a joy to look at the world through her eyes.
I also thought the whole life/death situation and the paranormal vibe was really well done. Sometimes authors over complicate it and I was glad Oliver kept it simple and to the point without it losing quality. Everything was very realistic, for the most part, including how teenagers think and behave (except for the texting, I didn’t like that).
There were some powerful moments in this but none actually made me feel depressed. The whole book was surprisingly light and optimistic. Which can be both good and bad, depending on how one looks at it. I’m still a bit undecided, to be honest.
The ending was not my favorite but it might appeal to others. The chapters’ length made it a bit boring/dragging at times and some things were also a tad cliché.
Overall, Before I Fall was a really great book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of plot. However, if you’re looking for something super dramatic and messed up, this isn’t for you. Trigger warnings: suicide, bullying, among others.
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And check out the Before I Fall movie on Netflix.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time!